Actions

Work Header

Emperor Waltz

Work Text:

At the Elite Hotel on Coruscant, Mon Mothma approached the door to the Grand Suite and keyed in the entry code, exactly as if she belonged there. She would be captured and executed if she were recognized, but confidence was more effective than skulking around like a criminal. And confidence came easy. She did belong here.

This trip to Coruscant had been dangerous, but necessary. As always, she needed ships, soldiers, and money. But what she actually wanted was political support, for the Senators to be outspoken about their doubts. They wouldn’t right now. They would eventually. Meanwhile, she would keep searching for the right words, the ones that would make them commit, and she would be patient. She knew they believed in the cause.

She also knew why they hesitated. Very few dissidents had been as successful as she. And why had she not been silenced after all these years? The Emperor’s agents had found and eliminated many who were far less careful.

What she was doing right now? It was not careful. But it was one of the only indulgences she had ever allowed herself, and while she was in Imperial City, she was going to indulge.

Breaking into the suite didn’t agree with her. It was below her. Still, she was a criminal, and a well-connected one that could get access codes to most suites in the city. And she could announce herself and get in that way, but the stolen code was safer.

She glanced down the hallway out of the corner of her eye - someone who belonged did not gawk. In another time, the top floor of the hotel was refitted in the style of the home planet of the Supreme Chancellor. It had been styled after Naboo for around 25 years, and was falling into disrepair - not many had reason to be esteemed guests of the Emperor. The fading daylight poured in through the high, open ceiling, and she looked past the dust dancing in the sunlight to the rough gray stone walls, the veined ivory marble columns set into them and repeating down the length of the corridor to the lift. Her gaze strayed to the floor, which was a fantastic mosaic of scenes from Naboo history, done in flat beige and gray stones, black grime creeping up between the interstices to crawl over the faces of the heroes of Naboo.

It was fine work, and she was sorry she hadn’t admired it more when it was new. Her hand trailed over the wide stone frame of the door, high and arched and rounded at the top, and she turned back to the pad, confirming her stolen code and hearing a chime of acknowledgment from the outdated lock system.

She stepped in, pulling down the deep hood of the gray robe she wore. Her eyes swept the chamber (one she had entered before, so often, in her decades on Coruscant), taking in the arched columns out to the balcony, the wide ivory marble tiles of the floor, and the fact that the former warmth and opulence had fled the room after so many years.

She found Orson Krennic near the center of the room, slumped in a plush chair, poring over a holopad and scowling. The slovenly posture was strictly a private activity.  She knew he'd never let himself be seen with anything less than perfect military posture elsewhere, despite the fact he'd never served.

She draped her shapeless gray robe carefully over the back of a chair in the sunken conference area by the door, and shuffled her thin slippers against the stone to get his attention as she made her way over. His head finally jerked up, his scowl deepened for a moment as a hand went to his blaster. But his expression cleared, then brightened as she saw recognition register.

“Orson.” It was a simple greeting. They both knew why she had come.

“Mon Mothma!” A grin split his face, and he set aside his holopad and stood. His pleasure always seemed genuine enough, though she had learned long ago to doubt anything that Orson Krennic had to show. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I would have gone to you.” He looked around the dingy room briefly, likely thinking the same things she had about the suite’s state, before again fixing her in his soft blue-gray gaze. He took a few steps towards her, his cape spreading slightly behind him, and he gestured to the conference area behind her with one gloved hand. “At the very least, I would have had a meal prepared. You know how much I enjoy your company.”

She kept her expression schooled into the placid politician’s mask she had perfected over the years. His question was rhetorical. After she had fled Chandrila as a traitor two years ago, she had seen him twice before this, both times unannounced. She didn’t trust him not to turn her over to earn favor with Palpatine. She didn’t think his job had anything to do with stopping rebels, but she knew Orson’s personality too well.

They both knew why she didn’t contact him. There was no point in saying it out loud. She inclined her head.

“If you’d like refreshment, please, let me order. There’s something I’d like you to try.” She walked across the room and picked up his holopad. He had locked it, of course, when he had spotted her. Worth a try. She used the public functions to order a meal.

She would never let him near a holopad while she was here, knowing he would call her in. Similarly, he would never let the nature of his work slip while in her presence.

As she completed the order for drinks and a light meal, she stared, blinking down at the holopad for an extra moment. He had stood in the middle of the room, watching her, appraising her. This was dangerous for both of them. He could arrest her at any time, though she didn’t think he would do it personally - not his style. Conversely, it would go very badly for him if someone else called on him and saw them together. The consequence in either case would be the same for her, but not him. Orson didn’t take many risks, and she wondered how he measured this one to balance in his favor.

She glanced at the gray eevorwood endtable, elaborately carved in geometric patterns, and gently set the holopad back down. She noticed a bottle of wine and a glass, nearly empty, and filed the knowledge away. She had yet to see him drunk enough to loosen his tongue around her. In a useful way. But he was getting older, and his bad habits were worsening. Perhaps tonight would be the night.

She turned from the bottle and looked him over as frankly as he had just done to her. She started with his clothes, the less worrying part. She had never quite gotten used to the white uniform he had chosen for himself almost twenty years ago, it looked so different from most Imperial uniforms. It was one of the more endearing things about him. He said he had chosen it because only the highest ranked in the Imperial military wore white. Orson was the only person she had ever seen in a white uniform, so she didn’t know how true this was. If half the things he told her about himself were accurate, he would outrank Palpatine himself. He had never been very clear on what he did, exactly, only that it was weapons development and allegedly one of the most important programs in the Empire.

His figure was still trim, and had always looked good in uniform - and if she was honest with herself, even better out of it. She had seen him in civilian clothes twice, and hardly recognized him. He lost some of his confidence that way, and the memory of how it had diminished him almost made her frown.

He held his hands behind his back, and she reluctantly drug her gaze above his collar, immediately arrested by his eyes. They had the same manic cast that she'd admired for thirty-five years. And she knew she was lost. She let herself smile at him, genuinely. Their history together had earned him that much.

He smiled, charming as ever.  His age only improved the sincerity of it, bracketing his eyes and mouth in lines she had watched appear, deepen, lengthen as time passed. Somehow, the smile still erased the years between them. He crossed the room to her, putting a hand at her waist. She let him.

“I worry about you, Mon. I’m not used to seeing you this rarely. This is only the third time since… since you left the Senate.” His face fell. “I’m still sorry about that.”

She was sure he was. She glanced down, then looked back up at him from behind her gracious politician’s mask. “I’m still here, still surviving, still fighting the good fight.”

He stepped away from her and walked over to the high arches leading out to the balcony. The transparent floor-to-ceiling barriers between the columns were in place. The sounds and smells of the city did not touch them in the room, though the rapidly vanishing light of sunset still backlit the skyline of Coruscant, framing it in rose and purples.

“I often think about you, and what happened. You’re just as devoted to your work as I am to mine. To have it taken away like that…” He turned around, regarding her with a troubled glare that she could almost believe was sincere, “It’s terrible. I don’t know what I’d do.”

She laughed, genuinely, without thought or artifice, and it felt good. “You’d keep showing up to work to prove them wrong, until they executed you.”

He smiled slightly and turned back to the window, the last of the sun highlighting his face in dull red. “They wouldn’t execute me.”

“They wouldn’t. You have a rare gift for finding the right people for your tasks.” Or, he had when they’d first met. She assumed that skill was why he had his current position.

“I wish I could find work for you. Clear your name, set you up in the Emperor’s good graces. You’d be a wonderful ambassador for other systems.” She stood and walked over to him to look out the barrier.

She had never liked the high view over the planet-wide city. It reminded her how many people needed to be involved in governance, how many different viewpoints needed to be reconciled, just how many people there were to make happy. Part of her longed to look out onto the city - from her old window in the Senate chamber, from this window, where she’d been so often - and imagine the city at peace. That’s when she’d know she’d done her job.

“I still have work, Orson. I don’t need any from you.” She didn’t bother to reprimand him for his assumption that she could ever lure systems into the Empire. He was deaf to all criticism of the government, and she would never be convinced that shows of force were necessary for peace. They avoided these topics with one another. But he was always offering her aid, ambassador, and humanitarian positions in the Empire. He seemed to genuinely believe she would do it if he found the right position for her. He was persistent enough to make her wary, though until recently she was fairly certain he’d gain nothing by having her in another career.

He turned to look at her again, away from the dying light of the city, and she felt the weight of his stare. “Still, they’re after you. It’s real this time, Mon. I do what I can, I keep up on the chase… I don’t think they’ve found you. Let me help you. Let me take you someplace they’d never look. Change your face, your identity. What you’re doing now is dangerous. You can’t be in a good place.”

She turned to blink at him. “And would you come to see me, in this new life?”

He shrugged, the corner of his mouth quirking up. “More than I do now, at least. I really do miss you.”

She smiled back. “I miss you too.”

They had never seen each other frequently. It had been semi-regular when Orson’s work had been based on Coruscant, but after that, it had been months of separation followed by a near-domestic life for a week or three, with plenty of nights where either she or Orson would stay at the office on business that they never discussed with each other.

The weeks together had been fun. They had cheered her, made her feel normal, reminded her what she was fighting for. It was the kind of life she wanted everyone in the galaxy to have, if they wanted it.

She and Orson were surprisingly well-matched, for being so ideologically different. And because of that, they couldn’t take their work home with them, which was more of a relief than she'd admit. They were also both discreet. Even as a junior senator and an engineer, they had been an odd pair. Neither was ashamed of the other, but both had been in positions where keeping a companion hadn’t been… advisable, perhaps, for professional reasons. But both had found what they needed in the other - a partner willing to step in and out of each other’s life, with understanding on both sides. A strange relationship, but it had worked. She had never been with another man, and she had noticed even Orson’s famously flirtatious persona had all but vanished when they began seeing each other regularly.

But it was also a dangerous game they played, on opposing sides of this ugly regime. She thought he must enjoy it as much as she did. Maybe not for the sheer thrill of it, but certainly the balance the risks she posed to his life and work against the notoriety all her knowledge (and now her life) would gain him.

She let herself imagine telling him about the humid, reeking prison she had committed herself to on Yavin-4, the planet she could not leave without risk, the planet that the Empire would firebomb until they killed all life if they could. Base One. She was, in theory, the leader, but the military men did much behind her back that frequently worked at cross purposes with actual peace, actual solutions to their problems. She could let those generals have their war, bow out once and for all. She was so tired. She could let Orson take her away somewhere, to a new life, a new identity. Perhaps she could teach children on a new settlement world. One with seasons, and far away from Palpatine. Maybe Orson would finish his work and retire there with her. Orson could do all of that.

But he wouldn't. Orson would come and arrest her personally, bring his special weapon armada to Base One and wipe out everything she had worked so hard for, simply to take the credit for it and earn whatever small advance in life that would give him.

No.

“It’s not so bad where I’m at,” she began, looking away from him, keeping him in the corner of her eye. “Lots of interesting people, new ideas, new challenges for me. You know how good I am in a debate.”

“I don’t, actually. You always give up when we debate.”

She still didn’t look at him. “But who can win against you, Orson? You can talk circles around anyone.”

“I wish that were true.” She felt him shuffle next to her, obviously agitated. She turned. As far as she knew, there was only one person that upset him like this. But she decided to dance around the topic first, to try and cheer him up.

“Were you here for meetings today?”

“Yes. Mas Amedda wanted a meeting in person. I was also taking care of some records, and I’ve been meeting with the Grand Moffs, Generals, Admirals, and others. Some here, some before I came.”

He loved dropping names and titles into conversations. She wondered how much of it was true. Had he ever actually met with Mas Amedda? Probably not.

“Did the meetings not go well?”

He looked over at her with what appeared to be surprise. “No, they went very well. My work is visionary. It just takes time. Recently, I’m able to show more than typical results. Mas Amedda in particular was most pleased.”

She was more free with her emotions around Orson, and he knew that, but the eyeroll she barely suppressed would not be taken well. She could circle back around to her original question and knock him down a peg, though.

“Still, you seem agitated.” She paused, for just the right amount of time, wondering if he would see the question coming. “Galen again?”

He jerked his head back around to face the barrier and laid his gloved hand against it, spreading the fingers, then fisting it. “It’s always Galen.”

She huffed air through her nose in amusement. “I always think you’ll have brought him around by the next time I see you.”

He turned to look at her again, leaning his weight on his arm against the window. “I can always see when two people need to work together, Mon. And I’ve known that about him ever since I met him. Only I could take his work and give it the attention it deserves. I know how to do that! I’ve spent my life getting into a position to use his research! But he doesn’t see it.”

She tightened the corners of her mouth, saying nothing. He needed no encouragement when it came to this. Galen Erso was a hopeless cause. It sounded like Orson had been offering him the same kinds of promises and positions he'd tried with her, and that Galen had declined… until he had fled and Orson had found him again, and had begun their unhappy relationship anew. Erso was hardly the only person made miserable under Palpatine, and she thought of him often when she considered the revolution.

She suspected that Orson genuinely did love Galen. He was the most important person for Orson, personally and professionally. He was one of the only coworkers Orson spoke of often, and one of even fewer that she had met casually. She envied Orson that kind of connection, and never stopped feeling bad that he had thrown himself against a lost cause for decades. But then, many saw her as the leader of lost causes, so who was she to judge? Perhaps she should encourage him more. She didn’t know the nature of the feud between them, but she liked to imagine, after Palpatine was deposed, that they could all three be friends.

Orson turned and looked out the window. “There’s a leak. I suspect it’s him.”

Her ears perked at this, though she kept her face impassive as she turned back to him.

“He leaked information about… your work together? To who?”

He scowled at the glass. “To a criminal I am in the process of tracing and capturing.” He turned to her and scowled. “Don’t.”

She turned and looked out the window again. “You know me, Orson. I content myself with scraps. I always have.”

“I don’t ever want to catch you digging through my trash. There’s no guarantee I can let you go if I do.”

She thought about calling his bluff. He wouldn’t let her go under any circumstance, if he could help it. But what was the point? They had been over this ground many times.

“You’ve told me before his wife had things in common with me.”

“No.” He shook his head. “I don’t know why I said that. You’re nothing like Lyra. Lyra was… obsessive. Not driven. Rude. Suspicious. Common.” He nearly spat the last as turned back to the window and straightened his posture, lowering his arm to clasp behind his back again. “Her politics were… similar. But you know I value intellect over all. She was not worthy to be Galen’s companion.”

She knew nobody but Orson would ever be found worthy of Galen, but she had never said this to his face. It was unnecessarily cruel, and she suspected he didn’t have another to share it with.

“You two do have some mutual acquaintances, though. You remember when I was looking for information about Saw Gerrera.”

She frowned, despite herself. She remembered. It was the only time he had openly begged her to use her contacts to help him. “You were looking for Galen Erso’s wife?”

“No. I was looking for their child. Lyra left it with Saw Gerrera.”

She turned away from the window, back to the room, which had been plunged in darkness. Saw Gerrera. Orson had asked for information on Saw Gerrera… ten years ago? Fifteen, maybe? She and Saw had not been on good terms even then, but she still had not told Orson his location. She might have later, after Saw's revolution turned bloody and involved so many innocents. But not then.

But the Ersos had left their child with Saw Gerrera rather than Orson Krennic?

Orson was a psychopath and an egomaniac, and Mon Mothma was perfectly aware that he was actively developing weapons that would wipe out swathes of innocents, and likely did a lot of underhanded things to accomplish his goals. But he would have raised a child of Galen Erso’s as his own.

Admittedly, Saw Gerrera would have, too. She wondered what that child had become.

With her back to Orson, she scowled. She hated to think she would have sold out Saw Gerrera over the welfare of a child, but she might have for one she knew would be well cared-for. And for Orson.

And what had Saw Gerrera’s revolution come to since then? A lot of civilian deaths? The deaths of a lot of soldiers that would have lived longer in the Rebellion? What would it have mattered, except to the child, Orson, Lyra, and Galen?

She looked up, closed her eyes, and took a breath. She had to let it go. She couldn’t quantify these things. She and Saw Gerrera were on the same side of the war. She was sure Saw’s child was a beautiful person. If they still lived.

She turned back and smiled her serene smile at Orson’s back. He was still facing the window. “I don’t think I’ve heard from Saw Gerrera since then. I honestly can’t tell if he’s still alive, or if his Rebels just use his name as a scare tactic.”

Orson turned to her. Backlit against the darkening sky as he was, she could not see his expression. “I’m not a fool. I know you don’t consort with him. He’s too violent. I can barely see you associating with military types at all, except out of necessity. But I know you know where he is.”

She inclined her head. She didn’t know off-hand, but she could find out. She always heard rumors. She hoped his current city of residence would survive him, unlike the last three. He was not careful about his location, and the Empire took its wrath out on the places that sheltered him.

Before she could redirect the conversation, the chime on the pad rang. She crossed the room and gathered the tray from the droid at the door, carrying it to the small endtable where Orson’s holopad sat. She turned on the beige floor lamp next to it, which didn’t cast nearly enough light to reach the far corners of the large room. She looked down at the tray. It contained the small sandwiches she had chosen, and a bottle of a red Neimoidian wine. They’d had the vintage before, and she wondered if Orson would notice. She picked up one of the small sandwiches and popped it in her mouth. She wanted another immediately, but forced herself to moderation. In truth, she was starving, and likely wouldn’t see food of this quality for quite some time to come. But she couldn’t bring herself to show that weakness to Orson, even for a luxurious meal on the Empire’s credits.

Instead, she watched as Orson toggled a control that made all but one of the balcony arches opaque. The sun had set, so it blocked most of the artificial light from the city outside and made the room even darker. He likely did it as a precaution, so nobody in a passing transport would see them together in the famous suite, the room high and bright in the darkness of the night. It was something she wouldn't have thought of, and it only confirmed what she believed about Orson's self-preservation instincts. But aside from it being smart, she also preferred the low light of the lamp to the artificial light of the garish ads playing across the city.

He approached the table and reached for the wine first. Orson poured them both a glass and raised his. She took hers and copied the gesture. She met his eyes, which were slightly red-rimmed and more tired than she remembered. She supposed hers were, too.

“To your safety, Mon.”

“May we meet again soon.”

They toasted and drank, not breaking eye contact. She set her glass down on the table, and he refilled it along with his own. As she grabbed another sandwich, she quirked the side of her mouth.

“I met a pilot I think you’d like.”

“Oh?”

“Young - I know you prefer to work with potential. He’s from…” she trailed off, not wanting to give too much information. She suspected he knew this, and would let it pass. “I can’t recall at the moment. But he was flying some sort of modified Vulture droid fighter. I saw him land it as gently as a new VCX.”

His eyebrows went up. “He made the modifications himself?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe! He’d made over the fighter droid into a small freighter so he could earn money, but defend the cargo from pirates and move fast. Strange-looking. He allegedly gets questions about it wherever he goes. I’ve never seen such drastic modifications that were travel-worthy, especially across large distances, and for as long as he’s claimed to use it.”

“What kind of freighter did he cannibalize?”

And so they chatted comfortably, sharing nonspecific anecdotes about trivial meetings, things they’d seen, advances in science, incidents and news from across the galaxy. It had always been this way with Orson. On Yavin-4, and even in the Senate, she had always been someone people brought their problems to, and was almost always working. Most of her dinners were spent with tearful representatives that were trying to get their case heard. Or, alternately, with a loyalist Senator whose resolve she could weaken via rumors and substantiated stories.

She had no real friends, and nobody to chat with except Orson. With Orson, she didn’t have to be the leader of the Rebellion, the hope for the galaxy, the one who could find the right thing to say that would convince the Senate to turn against Palpatine. She was just a woman who was tired, who liked to laugh, and who wanted to go to bed with someone occasionally. These weren’t things she needed often, but when she was in his company, she always remembered how much she liked having them. Simple pleasures.

They had met when they were both young. She had been nineteen, and she assumed he was the same age, though to this day she wasn’t sure if he had lied about it back then. She had been torn about her future career, her love of politics and her love of history had warred for prominence. Not finding the answers she wanted on Chandrila, she had gone to Brentaal-4 to take courses and see which suited her.

The crush of humanity in the university district of Yorval was overwhelming and dirty compared to the serenity she had been raised in. Even in Hanna City, the largest on Chandrila, there were broad streets, limits on the size of buildings, and a ban on personal vehicles within the city limits. In Yorval, the air was thick with pollution, the crush of bodies was sour and damp, and even the weather was manufactured. She felt like she was drowning in a manufactured sea of galactic beings. She had been to Coruscant with her parents before, but those visits had been controlled, and kept to private transports, walled gardens, and the relative tranquility of the Senate district.

She had been disheartened by the sobering sensation of being so insignificant, one of untold trillions in the galaxy. What did it matter what she did with her life? There was very little that could make an impact on so many beings.

She had tried to negate her feeling of insignificance by mixing with the other students, thinking it might help her find her place. It was when she had been out for drinks with a unit of political science students that she first met Orson.

Orson had been in the Futures program at the time, an engineering student. But he hadn’t quite… matched his classmates. He had clearly been the one who had invited everyone, and was networking the scientists with those he had met before in the politics program.

And he shone. He was charming in a way that not even the politicians had learned yet, and seamlessly integrated students with research interests with those whose home worlds and political agendas would benefit from it. It was obvious nobody but herself could see what he was doing.

At the time, she had been impressed and heartened by the display. Here was a man who saw the strengths in others and knew how to bring it out, who knew how to play people off of each other for the best outcome. It was politics, but it was more than that. It was potential, it was a way to make good things happen, things that mattered.

Later, she recognized it for what it was - manipulation. Orson had a natural talent for it. But she had learned from him, and wasn’t too proud to admit that she had built her own techniques using his as a base. He was a master of it, and she had still never seen the like in anyone else.

Orson had also been young, handsome, and basically made to her exact personal taste, down to his charm and apparent compassion. His blue-gray eyes saw everyone for who they were, and as the night wore on and the drinks kept coming, she made sure they caught her gaze more frequently. Much later, she suspected this was a result of her being an unknown variable more than actual attraction. Then and now, it didn’t really matter. He had a quick smile, casual mannerisms, and wore the light blue uniform of the Futures Program.

She had begun speaking to him, and he had easily admitted that he was not a gifted engineer by any means, but that he hoped to become a project manager, to help others in the program. She had been further charmed by his altruism, and they had both made their interest and intent overt by the end of the evening.

Her love affairs on Chandrila had all been adolescent moments of passing obsession, and she’d never actually taken a man to bed before. It gave her pause that night, when the opportunity presented itself so suddenly. Having sex with a stranger was not something she did. That she should do. Then and now, she took no action without careful consideration.

But she had reasoned that this sort of liaison could be uncomplicated. It could simply be two people meeting for a night of passion. And it was. It was still, in over fifty years, one of the only impulsive decisions she had ever made. She didn’t regret it then, and she couldn’t say she did now.

Given his blatant overtures and obvious experience, she was not the first person Orson had ever taken to bed, and she was relieved. He was a skilled and attentive lover. He had explored her with his mouth first, discovering what it was she liked. Soft lips around her nipples, a gentle touch on her neck and thighs. He had gone slowly, so slowly, holding her and whispering light endearments. Nothing silly about love or a relationship, simply breathy exclamations in appreciation of her skin, her responsiveness, her beauty, how much he was enjoying her, that she hoped she was having fun.

He used the same techniques to this day, and she took his flattery during sex with a grain of salt. Was he sincere? Did he say whatever nonsense came into his head in the heat of the moment? She didn’t know then, and she still didn’t.

But that wasn't important. His amusement over an intergalactic news story, what he said about her body - both were diversions, entertainment. The truth behind what they had was inconsequential. It only mattered that he knew how to take her away from her problems for an evening.

And he was generally very considerate about that. If he was being rude or short, she knew how to cut the conversation off and get to bed. He did likewise if she wasn’t responding to his gambits. This evening, he avoided talking about recent holofilms or trends in music, and seemed to only being up discussion of some of the largest, politically unaffiliated stories she could think of, likely out of respect for the fact he didn’t know whether she had access to the holonet and didn’t want to embarrass her.

Tonight was a good night for both of them. They were currently discussing the outcome of the Gullick races. He wasn’t too drunk, as he sometimes was when she surprised him lately. He also seemed genuinely happy to see her, couldn’t take his eyes off her. It felt good. With a brief smile, he drained the rest of his glass and set it down. He glanced back up at her, straightening with a wicked glint in his eye.

“As much as you love the races, I know what you actually came here to learn about.”

“Oh?” She raised her eyebrows, waiting.

“Certainly you’ve heard rumors about my substantial weapon.”

She concealed her own smile with her glass, drinking the rest of the wine. It was a terrible segue, but it was the same one they’d been using for almost twenty years and had never stopped being funny for how awful it was.

“A weapon, Orson? You know I research such things for my work.”

“A substantial weapon, Mon. Not just any weapon. Do you think the senators need to know about the danger it poses to naughty rebels?”

She tried hard to keep a straight face, and couldn’t. She reached up to unfasten the cape from his collar and shoulders. “Oh, I don’t know if the Senate can handle that kind of information, Orson. Why don’t you tell me about it instead? I’ll spread the rumors around as necessary.”

He put both hands on her waist as she finished unclasping his cape, letting it pool on the floor around his feet. It was a mess anyway - she didn’t worry about it wrinkling. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, letting the loose fabric of her wide white sleeves slide down her arms to expose the pale, freckled skin.

“The rumors are just for you. I think you’ll appreciate this weapon more than anyone else in the galaxy.” He leaned in, and she closed her eyes to kiss him. He was gentle, as he always had been, pulling away after a moment and exhaling against her lips.

“Haven’t I been hounding you for it for over thirty years? Don’t I deserve a little inside information after all this time?”

He huffed in amusement, then leaned back in for another soft kiss. Her lips parted and her tongue met his, gently exploring. She could feel the heat beginning on her face, and she rubbed her cheek against the stubble on his. She had never been particularly shy about how much she enjoyed this. He pulled back again, moving his hands up her sides, her hands sliding down to his biceps.

“It’s more powerful than you’d think, Mon. I’m not sure you can handle the sight of it.”

She slid her hands the rest of the way down his white sleeves, stopping at his wrists and wrapping her fingers loosely around his cuffs. She caressed the soft black leather of his gloves with her thumbs (the tee-muss leather gloves were the nicest thing that Orson wore - she had been gifting him pairs of them for years), took a step back, unsnapped the cuff on his gloves, then ran three fingers on the inside of each, pulling them off and discarding them on the floor.

He reached up and stroked her cheek with his fingertips, cold even inside the gloved, and still rough and calloused.  His rough hands were one of the things she enjoyed most in their physical relationship. He was wholeheartedly involved in any project he worked on, down to supervising the correct manual labor procedures. It seemed unfair that he was a gifted networker as well as an engineer skilled enough for follow-up like that, and it had always been outrageously attractive to her.

She looked back into his eyes, smiling. “I’m an old woman, and I’ve seen many things in my time. It will take a lot to convince me that your weapon really is a threat to the galaxy.”

He got an incredulous look on his face as he ran the fingers of his other hand through her short hair. “I don’t know whether to me more insulted about my weapon or the comment about your age. You’re as fine as the day I met you, Mon.”

She leaned in and kissed him again, less gently this time, more passionately. She put her hands on his waist, then ran them along the wide belt around his tunic, until they occupied the space between them. She unfastened the belt and let it fall to the stone floor, the metal clanking as it made contact.

“And what about your weapon? Have you only been improving it over time?”

Before he could continue the banter, her hands slid back up his shoulder and pulled sharply at the velcro on the side of his uniform. It made a loud tearing noise that she could never resist stretching out longer than necessary by going very slow. She was grinning down at the uniform as she slowly parted the front panel from the side, and could feel Orson’s rough fingers through her hair, squeezing the back of her skull slightly to indicate his amusement.

When she separated it all the way down, she moved both hands to his collar, unhooked it, then began pushing the uniform off his shoulders. He dropped his hands from her head to shrug out of it. It fell to the floor atop his cape.

She grinned at his chest - he had begun to eschew undergarments after his promotion to Director, saying that he could have a new white uniform whenever he wanted it. He was always perfectly bare under his tunic and pants, and he still looked good. She bent down to drop a light kiss on his collarbone, then felt his hands on her face again, rough thumbs stroking the tops of her cheeks, as he guided her face back up to his.

“My weapon only gets better with age. It’s getting to the point where-” he dropped one of his hands to her waist and pulled her close. She could feel the beginnings of his erection, and a matching desire thrummed through her, made her skin hot all over. He leaned close, his warm breath playing across her lips. She closed her eyes. “I’m going to need to show it off. I can’t keep it to myself anymore.”

She kissed him, gently again, probing with her tongue, his coming out to meet hers. They kissed lazily for some time, his hand kneading her waist, hers gently stroking his bare shoulders. She ground her hips into his, and pulled away from the kiss.

“I’m eager to see your weapon. Why don’t you show me what it can do?”

He grinned, and moved his hand down to her neck. “My Death Star? I have to admit, it’s known for a beam that can penetrate and take apart anything in its path. Are you sure?”

She laughed, and leaned in for another kiss. It was always the same stupid joke. “Oh, I’m more than ready.”

And with that, he swept her up and off her feet. She felt nineteen again as he carried her across the room and deposited her on the couch. She couldn’t have kept the pleasure off her face if she’d tried, and it felt good to be unable to invoke her politician’s mask, to give in to such simple pleasures. To have something uncomplicated.

He set her down gently on the soft violet couch with the carved eevorwood frame, positioned against the wall by the bedroom door. He knelt gracefully in front of her, his palms on her knees, squeezing them gently. Orson had left one of the arch barriers transparent on this side of the room, where the light of the dim lamp did not reach. Orson’s silhouette was illuminated by the red and blue lights of signage in the night, his features barely visible.

“I don’t think you’re quite ready for the Death Star. Or maybe it’s not yet in a fit state for you. But it will be soon. Just give me a little more time.”

And with that, he took hold of the copious white skirts of her frock and threw them over her knees, running his palms up her thighs to push the fabric higher around her waist. She, of course, wasn’t wearing underwear either. She had gone without for good luck, hoping he’d be here, in their suite.

He reached down with one thumb and gently stroked her clit. He stared intently for a long moment as she exhaled deeply, relaxing into his touch, feeling so hot, his rough hands cool and dry against her skin. She could see the light reflected in his eyes as he looked back up at her.

“You are really the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, Mon.” He stroked the palm of his free hand over her thigh, kissing her gently where he touched. “I’ll never understand how we can have something like this between us.”

“Hush, Orson.” She didn’t want to think about it right now. Not to mention the fact that she was hardly the most attractive woman he’d met. He’d had many partners before her, and likely a few more before their relationship stabilized and became regular. She was hardly spectacular.

“I mean it.” He laid his cheek against her thigh, gripping her knee, and continuing to stroke with his other thumb. “It’s not just your looks, though there is that. I can talk to you. You have a beautiful mind, and you are absolutely unstoppable in your convictions. You can’t be reasoned with. I wish I could. That’s why I can’t stand the thought of never seeing you again.”

She was sometimes uncomfortable with his flattery during sex. He never failed to sing her praises, but it always sounded hollow to her, like he was playing her for his advantage. Like he hoped that one time, she might give up everything she knew for love.

He was silver-tongued, but she preferred a different application of said tongue. She hooked her free leg around his back and pulled him closer. He chuckled, and kissed her thigh again.

“Impatient.”

“It’s been a while.”

“It has.”

He kissed his way up her thigh and nosed gently at the hair between her legs. She had heard that it was more fashionable to remove the hair, but Orson had never mentioned it, so she had never bothered. He kissed her just above her hairline, then parted her with his thumb and began working around and inside with his tongue.

Her breath came shorter as she felt him reach a broad, calloused index finger inside and begin massaging. He worked slowly with his tongue at first, teasing her by pulling back, then working with his thumb and finger again.

She gave him her moans freely, squeezing him harder with the leg around his back. Her encouragement had him plunging deeper with his finger, harder, adding his middle finger, though he was still slow and gentle with his tongue. It drove her crazy, and she began rocking her hips gently against his face.

She watched him over the folds of her skirt. His eyes were closed, and he continued to rub her thigh with the thumb of his free hand as he licked and sucked, going harder still with his index finger, feeling her attention on him.

Orson Krennic ate her out like it was his last meal, every single time. These were his words, of course, spoken early on in their relationship and terrible enough that they repeated through her head like a bad song lyric whenever he did this, but in the heat of the moment, it always seemed to be true. She didn’t really believe he enjoyed it as much as he said. He was simply excellent in bed. But she still liked hearing it, and thinking about it.

True or not, Orson knew exactly where to touch her, how much pressure to use, and how to use his tongue in ways that had her curling forward over his head and digging her nails into his bare shoulders, eyes closed, abdomen clenched against the wave of pleasure, sweat beginning to stand out on her face and neck. It made the muscles in her back ache and scream, her thighs pull, and put too much pressure everywhere, but she relished the sensation, relished the pleasure and pain.

He pulled his head away, leaving his fingers stationary inside of her. She cupped his chin in both hands and leaned forward to kiss him, closing her eyes and tasting the sharp flavor of herself on his lips and tongue. He squeezed her thigh again when their lips parted.

She sat back and opened her eyes just slightly to regard him. He had a somber look on his face, something she always thought looked a little foolish during sex.

“Why don’t you show me that massive weapon of yours?”

He raised his eyebrows and rocked back, sitting down in a kneeling position. “All right. I think it’s finally time.”

And without warning, he moved the hand from inside her and hooked it around her waist, pulling her forward into his lap. She let out a rather undignified noise as she sat down straddling his lap, her bare thighs against the rough fabric of his black uniform pants, her calves pressing into the cool leather of his boots, her frock settling around them.

And he kissed her again, of course. They always took their time, made this last as long as possible, and kissed each other until their lips were bruised and swollen. She wrapped her hands around his warm back and imagined that they both needed to know that, untouchable as they were, there was still someone willing to kiss them. That maybe they’d both need the memory of it to sustain them for a long time to come.

Or perhaps that was foolish sentimentality.

She pulled away from the kiss, putting her palms against his chest and pushing him away.

“Orson.”

He was silent, responding with a coy look, then grasping her skirts and pulling her outfit off over her head, revealing that she was fully nude underneath. The gold cords she wore over her usual cloak clattered to the floor with the dress, all but one. It was her heirloom medallion, her family’s seal from Chandrila. It had been given to her when she had come of age, just before her trip to Brentaal-4. It was worn by Chandrilans as a reminder that everything they did in life should serve family and Chandrila. She only took it off to do this, the only thing she ever did wholly for herself.

She had told him the significance of the medallion before, of course. He took it between his fingers, looked up to her eyes, and kissed it before lifting it over her head and setting it gently on the couch behind her.

Before anything else idiotic could come out of his mouth, she stood and offered him her hand. He winced as he pulled himself off his knees, straightening. She dropped his hand, and balanced on one leg, then the other to pull off her slippers.  She steadied herself on his waist, then undid his belt, holster, and pants without pulling them down.  She looked at his pants for a moment, then turned to walk through the doorway into the bedroom.

She took a brief look around, and it was much as she remembered it. The room was dark, the privacy curtain was over the window, and the large bed was draped with the well-worn red and gold lace of the Naboo. She went and perched on the edge, watching through the door for Orson. She heard his boots hitting the floor, and then he appeared in the doorway, gloriously naked.

She was not disappointed. His white uniform still concealed the same lean, tall, wiry build she knew every inch of. Age barely touched him. The sparse hairs on his chest and arms had grayed, and perhaps his skin wasn’t what it once was, but she found the evidence of long life to be increasingly attractive as she herself aged. Orson pretended as if she didn’t age, so she didn’t know how he felt.

He was thinner, his collarbone and hips standing out in alarming contrast, and she wondered if he was under unusual stress - he often skipped meals when he was. But she knew her own body was suffering from the ill effects of the supplies of Yavin IV.

She sighed. They were so alike. It gnawed at her, and made her want him.

So did his cock, which was as magnificent as he boasted. She had only ever had Orson, so she had nothing to compare it to, but she suspected that Orson’s was indeed exceptional. She had never found cause to look elsewhere.

It hung between his thighs now, half hard, and even that was still significant. Her lips twitched, and her eyes moved up to see him grinning at her once again, his gray hair disheveled comically from her fingers.

“On the bed, Orson.”

He sat next to her, the backs of two fingers trailing through her hair, his eyes following. “I wonder how often you give orders.” His eyes moved back to hers, barely discernible in the dark. “You seem more like the type who asks, and has others give orders for you. Is that still true?”

“That may be. But I know you take orders poorly from most people. I have to do it myself.”

She pushed back, and he slid up the bed to the pillows, leaning against the headboard. It was the same elaborately carved eevorwood as the furniture in the front room, this piece carved with amorous romps from Naboo myth, rubbed down and chipped in places. She slid alongside him and braced her hand next to his head, and felt the prominent lump of Tali, the ancient god of pleasure, as she leaned in for another kiss.

His hands reached up to her hips and tugged slightly. She responded by turning over and straddling his thighs, noticing that his erection was slow in coming. She ran a thumb along the underside in disinterest, shooting a critical look to Orson that was likely lost in the darkness.

“What can we do about this?”

He shifted further down, and she felt the semi-soft length of him slip underneath her. She rocked her ass against it in response.

“You’re the one that’s trying to make everyone happy. I would think you’d be an expert at solving this kind of problem.”

She pondered strategy for a moment, sliding her buttocks against his erection as she considered. Ultimately, she decided she would take what she wanted, as if this could be the last time for both of them. She sat up, pushing his shoulders down and forcing him to lay flat on the bed. She leaned up over him, bracing her elbows next to his head. “As you know, I can be rather selfish when I’m in your company. You bring it out in me. I fear a solution to our current dilemma will have to involve both of us.”

One hand reached up to caress along her back, the index finger of the other found its way inside her again, sliding in and out tentatively, lazily.

“Isn’t that what all your solutions involve?”

She wanted to slap him, but that had never been the way of their love. She took the barb about her compromises in stride, sliding up and flipping herself over, arranging her knees on either side of his chest and sitting down on his face.

“Stop talking, Orson.”

His hands reached up and gripped her hips as his tongue found its way… not inside, but in the cleft of her ass, and she gasped as he began gently lapping at her entrance there. She felt the heat spread through her, the sweat begin to trickle down between her shoulderblades.

They had only tried that twice, memorably, when they had both been very drunk. In the rare instances when Mon Mothma let herself have more than one social drink, it had always been in Orson’s company exclusively, and absolutely everything felt good.

His fingers moved down to part her. She could feel him gasping for breath through his nose, and felt his tongue make another circuit of her hole.

She didn’t think she wanted this tonight though, so she rocked forward and repositioned herself so that his talented tongue could continue its good work elsewhere. She felt him inside of her and, satisfied, she lowered herself down to apply her own tongue to the length of his cock.

It was large enough that she needed to hold it with one hand for control as she worked with her tongue and lips. She rubbed with her thumb just under the head as she stroked up the length, and she felt Orson pause, moaning into her as her hand moved down and she wrapped her lips around the head. She took it into her mouth and was rewarded with a taste of precum, which she pulled back and lapped delicately from the slit.

He moaned again, his tongue working erratically as she felt him struggling for breath against her thighs, felt his hands drop to fist in the sheets. He had never been particularly good at this position, she suspected he was too self-obsessed. But she found it endearing in this context.

His erection became fully hard with just a few applications of her tongue, two teasing mouthfuls, and some rough stroking lubricated only by her saliva. She wanted this to last longer, but this had always been challenging for her - he was so big.

As her tongue made its way up his length and to the slit, she let her lips close over the head again, and this time, she began working his erection in and out of her mouth more sincerely. She had never been able to take more than a little of it down her throat, had never managed to defeat her gag reflex, even during the longest of their trysts together. But he always seemed to enjoy the effort.

So she let the drool run down from her mouth and stroked the length as she bobbed up and down on what she could manage. It still wasn’t much. It never seemed to matter to him. He removed his mouth from her completely to moan aloud, and she could feel him struggling for breath underneath her. He turned his head slightly to mouth at her thigh.

She took the opportunity to take him as deeply as she could, pulling up and going into a full-body spasm as she choked and attempted to control her gorge. She was rewarded with more precum, which she teased with her thumb and used to slick his cock, pumping it in her hand as she blinked tears from her eyes. She really shouldn’t do this anymore - her shoulder ached from where she was leaning her weight against her other arm, and her stomach was difficult to control after the wine and sandwiches she’d had, much richer fare than what she was used to.

Oh, but it was worth it to feel Orson bite into her thigh, feel him tremble beneath her, his cock twitch in her hand, the helpless sound he made as he tried to control himself. His knees bent as he lifted his hips off the bed slightly, and she leaned her cheek against his thigh and sighed.

Here was one of the most powerful men in the Empire, twitching below her. It felt good to master such a man, even if it was an illusion, even if it was only this. She had taken increasing pleasure in this small power over him the more frustrated she had grown over Palpatine refusing to relinquish power.

Sitting up, she slid herself off Orson’s gasping face and pumped his leaking cock a few more times before pushing his legs flat against the bed. She crawled forward, and with no preamble, sank down on his cock.

“Mon,” Orson gasped, scandalized, his hands finding her hips again.

Normally he did this gently, using more fingers, whispering poison into her ear. This time she wanted it to hurt a little, wanted to feel it. Wanted to remember this indulgence and bring it with her to her prison on Yavin-4.

And it hurt. He was big, and she was glad she was faced away as she winced and pulled up before taking the entire length of him. She paused, and his hands were gentle on her as she rested on her knees, leaned over his thighs, gasping. She lowered herself again, still sore, and began setting her own pace, enjoying a rougher fuck than what Orson would have given her, what he knew she liked.

“Mon Mothma, You are too good to me.”

She grunted, knew enough to encourage him. “You deserve it, Director Krennic.”

“You are always full of surprises. I still can’t believe-” he cut himself off with a moan as she plunged down particularly hard. He gasped for a few minutes, and then continued. Orson was a talker.

“I still can’t believe you only do this with me.”

“Loose lips sink ships, and neither of us want that.”

He huffed with laughter, and she could feel him pulse inside her. “It’s more than that. I love seeing you drop your act. I can’t believe you never found anyone sympathetic to your cause to…” he grunted again as she sat down. “To be with.”

She couldn’t tell if this was meant to be cruel or not, but he was inside her, and she was feeling a little defeated since her exile. “You deserve me, Orson. I know I’m not your ideal. I’m sorry I’m not Galen Erso. Neither of us has the life we want, but we do have each other.”

He was quiet after this. Perhaps she had crossed a line. She felt bad about it, despite herself. He deserved it.

After a few brief minutes of silence, she could feel the sweat collecting on her neck, her face, her palms where she gripped his thighs. Her own thighs were sore and aching from the unaccustomed exercise, and she could feel a soreness in her middle from where she was hurting herself against Orson’s size. She stopped, pulled off, and rolled onto her side, facing Orson. They were both panting in the darkness, though he was still laying on his back. She couldn’t see his face, and she threw an arm across his chest.

“I’m sorry, Orson. I shouldn’t have said that. You know I think of you, and that this means a lot to me.” She paused, and went further. “You know what it means that I’m here right now.”

He was silent another moment, then rolled over and nosed at her face in the darkness, finally finding her lips. “I do know. I know what it cost you. This… it wasn’t you. You know that.”

She did. She had never found words that wounded him. He thought he deserved the dig about Galen, was thinking about him now that she’d invoked him. She sighed.

“Forget about it.” She didn’t want to wade through this right now, she wanted it to be simple. The truth was that she was sore, and the kind of gentle fuck that Orson was good at was what she needed to complete tonight. She reached down and found Orson’s dick in the darkness, slick with a mixture of their fluids, and she pumped it slowly once, twice.

“Will you help me finish? Please?”

Orson rolled over onto his side, his rough hand playing down her chest, still dry and cool in contrast to the heat of her body. He teased the nipple on one small breast. She sighed, and felt his breath tickle her neck, her shoulder, and then her other breast as he leaned in to suck gently at the nipple. He pulled back, making an obscene noise when he did so.

“You know my weapon is all for you.”

She rolled her eyes and shoved at his shoulders again. “Fine. Find my moist jungle hideaway and obliterate it.”

He laughed. “It would be my pleasure.”

He pressed his forehead between her breasts as he leaned on one arm and reached down with the other. She could feel the drag of his dick against her belly, her thigh, could feel the slick trail of precum first warm, then cold against her skin.

She could feel his press against her, how he slid in slowly, pushing until she could feel the slightest resistance, then pulling out again.

“Being inside you always feels so familiar. So comforting” He pushed gently in and out again. Slowly. She let him talk as he kept his pace.

“Knowing I’ll get to see you again… it’s always something I have in the back of my mind. No matter how many difficulties and delays I have on projects, I think about you, and I wonder when our paths will cross again.”

She was hot, and sweating, and she arched her back up from the damp sheets, thrust her hips up to push him deeper, wrapped her legs around his waist. He moved his hand underneath her lower back to support her, and increased his pace, leaning his face into her neck.

“When I have problems, the thought of your patience, the way you never give up, calms me. You’re such a strong person.”

She reached her fingers up and trailed them along his hairline, just beginning to moisten with sweat, and along the deep lines of his face, the creases between his brow, the bags under his eyes. It was amazing to think that she had known Orson long enough to see him age like this. And it didn’t matter. He was still every bit as skilled and charming as the day they’d met.

Her long and involved efforts to remove Palpatine from power were… ongoing, at best. Had her decisions about any of it been good? Some had, and if they all led to Palpatine being deposed, then they all would have been good. But going home with Orson that night? Was that a good decision?

Yes. It was the easiest yes she had.

She missed him enough to tell him so.

“You’re the only person in the galaxy that compliments me. You have always made me feel like an Empress.”

She could feel her muscles flexing around the enormous length of him, could feel the pressure building to intolerable levels - she wouldn’t last much longer, and she thought he might not, either. His nose found its way up to her ear, then she felt his lips. He nibbled gently at her earlobe, and she twitched and writhed on the bed.

He exhaled again, and whispered, “You’re better than an Empress for so many, Mon.”

Her eyes flew open, seeing nothing, and her chest contracted, robbing her of breath. She let a cry escape her as her muscles clenched and she came.

She could feel him smile against her neck as he fucked up into her, quickly, once, twice, one last time. And then he cried out into the pillow as he came. She wrapped her arms around his back as his body trembled through the orgasm and he pumped his cum into her.

There was… a lot. She could feel it, hot and leaking down her thighs and onto the lace bedspread. She wondered if he had held off on even self-pleasure since they’d last seen each other, eight months ago. He may have.

As he slumped on top of her, she could feel his heart slamming in his chest, the scorching heat of his skin, and she combed his damp hair away from his brow as he caught his breath. Idly, she turned her head and kissed his temple.

They laid entwined for several minutes, both lost in their own thoughts, their own reminisces. Eventually, he rolled off her and pulled his ridiculously huge, soft dick from between her thighs. She exhaled in amusement, pressing her thighs together to feel his cum, and rolled on her side to throw an arm over his chest again. He worked one under her head, and they laid in companionable silence for several minutes longer.

He turned and kissed her forehead, and she felt his fingers play down the back of her neck.

“I mean it. Please. Tell me any place in the galaxy, for any reason, and I will send someone to pick you up. The Emperor is serious about finding you, and it’s possible…” He paused, then continued. “It’s possible if there are rumors of your location, entire…” he paused again. “Many innocents will die when they find you. I don’t have control of that intelligence, so I can’t help you if it comes to that.” His fingers gripped the back of her neck, tighter, more possessive.

“So if you are ever desperate, if it ever looks like you’re at a dead end, if you catch even a whiff that the Empire knows where you’re at… come to Coruscant and wait for me here. I’ll check for you more often, I’ll try and be in town once a week.”

He was silent after that.

Come to Coruscant. Ridiculous.

She leaned over and kissed him. “Of course, Orson. I’ll always be able to catch a transport here if things go badly. I would want you to know what happened.”

They both knew it was a lie. Part of the game they played with each other. They were both still having fun with it.

And with that, reluctantly, sore all over and well-fucked, she rolled out of Orson’s warm embrace, out of the soft, luxurious bed, braced her feet on the floor, and stood. Naked, sweating, and dripping Orson’s cum down her leg, she took her first steps from a normal life back to her Rebellion prison.

She reached the doorway and laid a palm against it. She felt like she should say something.

“Stay,” she heard from the room.

She turned, and could make out the light reflected in his eyes. She shook her head.

“You know I can’t.” She looked back out into the front room, at the piles of their clothes laying about. “But I wish I could.”

He didn’t respond, so she gathered her white frock from the floor.

She would need to change, then burn her frock and cloak on the way out, lest he put a tracker in them. She would also shower elsewhere and get a full-body medical scan in the Coruscant underground, where she still had many contacts and allies.

They may enjoy each other’s bodies, but Mon Mothma would use any information she could get from Orson Krennic against the Empire, just as he would use her capture and the dismantling of the Rebellion for the Empire.

But. If she were facing down Orson in a prison list? If he was in a group of war criminals they captured after the Republic was restored?

She would probably pull any string she had to let him go. It would be one of the only instances in which she would abuse whatever sort of power she had.

Without his cause, he was just an old man. She was the same way.